Jun 07

The mistake we make reading body language

We asked business psychologist Merom Klein for that subtle clue people reveal about their nature through body language: the head nod, rushed speech, eye contact.

His answer: “The big myth is that you’re going to be able to read body language or an intonation, or someone says ‘um’ or they gesture in a certain way and there’s the magic thing that will tell you if this is an entrepreneur that you can believe in or not. The fact is, many of us have these kinds of biases of what we look for. If you look at the research they are incredibly unreliable predictors of future success.”

If it’s not a wink, a cough or crossed arms, then what is it? So many entrepreneurs come in with great ideas and vision, but only some are prepared for a successful run.

Here are a few things Klein looks at:

  • Can you have enough of a dialogue with this individual that you can open the door and do a good assessment of what they’re about?
  • What’s their skill set and their experience? Not just their background, but what have they actually done and achieved?
  • What hurdles have they faced and how have they overcome those?
  • How do they negotiate?
  • How do they meet timelines?
  • How do they understand your requirements as an investor?
  • Can you tell me where you’re going to need other people with greater know-how than yours and show me how you’ve hired and relied on talent like that in the past?

“I think that’s magical thinking. It concerns me that we choose presidential candidates based on that. ‘I liked his tie’ or ‘I didn’t like his toupee’ or ‘I thought he was too slick.’ Instead, look at the plan this entrepreneur is telling you they’re going to execute in order to create wealth and ask questions like: ‘Show me where you’ve done this.  Tell me about an experience.  What hurdles do you anticipate?’”

Like everyone, he has passed on good opportunities and invested at times when he shouldn’t have.

“It always came down to the people. It was hardly ever the technology.” He invested in one company whose technology couldn’t be supported by the market. But the team was agile, used their resources to pivot and came up with something that is better adapted to today’s market. As a result, he doubled down on his investment.

“That kind of agility, that kind of learning, that kind of looking reality in the face, saying, ‘it is what it is,’ and being excited by the possibility rather than defeated and frustrated and put off because the market isn’t what you thought it was going to be, that’s going to make that company a success.”

Thank you, Merom, for your insight.
Merom Klein PhD, business psychologist and serial entrepreneur, wrote the book about Courage to PowerUP Brilliance™ for real innovation. For 30+ years, he has equipped C-level teams to delegate, empower, trust and ennoble their best and brightest stars to Lead from the Middle, accelerate post-merger integration and drive innovation. And he’s equipped mid-level leaders to step in, reach out, take charge and seize big new opportunities in matrix structures and cross-functional global innovation, talent management and M&A integration teams.

1 comment

  1. Cathleen

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    I see all of them centre to heart. There’s some validity but I’ll take hold opinion until
    I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we need more!

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